HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office announced a new team that aims to prevent gun violence in Tampa Bay. The team is called the gunfire response investigations team, or GRIT for short.
The move comes as the area sees a rise in the number of shootings on Tampa Bay streets. So far in 2021, nationwide data shows the overall number of shootings that have killed or injured at least one person is more than the first six months of 2020, which finished as the deadliest year for gun violence in the past two decades, according to data collect by Gun Violence Archive.
The amount of non-fatal shootings has risen in Hillsborough County over the last year with an increase from 44 cases in 2019 to 72 cases in 2020. As of July 1, 2021, there have been 34 non-fatal shootings in unincorporated Hillsborough County, reports HCSO.
The mission of the newly-formed Gunfire Response Investigations Team (GRIT) is to take an assertive and centralized approach at investigating shootings with surviving victims, along with identifying and apprehending the offenders behind the acts of violence to ensure that they are aggressively prosecuted. The Criminal Investigations Division (CID) Homicide Section will continue leading efforts to investigate fatal shootings. GRIT is comprised of four detectives, four deputies, and a supervising sergeant. The team will respond to and investigate non-fatal shootings involving victims across all five Hillsborough County districts. GRIT will work closely with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), using results obtained through the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) to analyze ballistic information and search for links between weapons used to commit other crimes. By centralizing the team of deputies that comprise GRIT, HCSO will be able to more rapidly find connections between shootings and other crimes, including drug-related violence.